IP & Copyright
End of the Internet as We Know It: Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement
On November 13, WikiLeaks, a nonprofit media organization that prides itself on divulging imperative information to the public, leaked a draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. The agreement was being secretly negotiated among our government’s policymakers in order to avoid public uproar and backlash that may result in the watering down of some of the agreement’s regulations. If there is a need to smuggle proposed legislation into enactment in a democratic society for fear of being met with opposition, then maybe the law isn’t representative of the majority’s voice.
This law is far worse than SOPA and PIPA combined. It’s a “free trade” pact between 12 countries, including the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. What it really is is an agenda effectuated by corporate powerhouses that want greater intellectual property protection at the cost of freedom of expression and creation.
Three key provisions of the TPP that will affect you and should elicit your interest:
Our internet service providers will become the copyright coalition. The Digital Millenium Copyright Act’s (DMCA) takedown notice procedures provide Internet Service Providers (ISPs) with safeguards against suit for copyright infringement committed by its users. If a user is accused of infringement, the ISP, upon receiving the takedown notice, must immediately delete the infringing content pending a determination of infringement in order to avoid liability for the posted material. If you think this is unfair, the TPP takes it a step further. The TPP grants legal incentives to these internet middlemen in exchange for their participation as copyright police (essentially). Why does this matter? Well these provisions could potentially result in the filtering of user content for possibly infringing material. Websites that may contain infringing material, including social media hangouts, have a chance of being blocked by these ISPs so that the provider can circumvent liability for infringing material transferred through the internet. And think about it from an economic standpoint. How much would it cost for ISPs to comb through every bit of user-generated content to determine if there are copyright concerns? It’s definitely a lot more than simply running a prudent internet service that limits access to certain sites and web platforms.
Patent powers will be used for evil. The TPP makes patents more easily accessible for the pharmaceutical industry by including an entire section in the agreement devoted to opening the pathways to patent protection for specifically this industry. Additionally, patent applicants in this industry will be able to limit the availability of the scientific info that was utilized to create the medicine, which operates to give the pharm moguls a huge amount of leverage against other creators. The price of medicine will undoubtedly increase, and I think that was the whole purpose of this particular law to begin with.
Protection will infringe on constitutional rights. Our constitution aims to encourage invention and the arts by limiting the time period for which a holder of intellectual property can assert his or her rights. This law proposes to extend the years of copyright protection by 20 years and thus further minimize the amount of information available in the public domain from which new works can be created.
And that’s only just the tip! For the full leaked version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, click here. I strongly advise you to look it over or read a few summaries on it when you get the chance. The availability of knowledge and legal space for innovation will be dramatically decreased by the TPP. And should our democratic values be neglected in the interest of corporate wealth? NO! So do something.
Please take a few seconds to sign this petition to stop the TPP here.
Gena Thomas, a recent graduate of Howard University School of Law, was born and raised in Lafayette, Louisiana. A graduate of The University of Texas at Austin, she enjoys watching scary movies and acquiring calories from chocolates of all sorts.
Featured image courtesy of [hdzimmermann via Flickr]